Is Your Home Up to Modern Energy-Efficiency Standards?

By: Lauren Higl

Building science has come a long way in recent years. We are learning more every day about how to make homes more energy-efficient while still keeping them affordable. This is even more important to homeowners today than it was in the past because the cost to heat, cool and run a home continues to increase. Many homeowners are at the mercy of factors beyond their control, such as the price of oil per barrel or the cost of electricity. But there are some things that can be controlled, such as reducing our own consumption, which in turn can help reduce energy bills.

You may already know that your home needs some energy-efficient upgrades, or you may think that you have a pretty efficient home already. Either way, it is important to know how your home stacks up to the modern energy-efficiency standards set by the best and brightest in the building science community. One way to do this is to check out the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and see how your home compares.

The IECC serves as a major regulatory tool for energy-efficient construction and helps guide builders to construct residential and commercial structures that effectively conserve energy. A new code is published every three years, with the most recent code published in January 2012. If you want to compare the energy-efficiency of your existing home to that of new homes being built to code today, the 2012 IECC is a great reference tool.

How does the 2012 IECC say that homes should be built today,
and how does your home compare?

If you didn’t build your own home, you might not know the exact way that it was constructed or how that measures up to the 2012 IECC. To give you a general reference point, we’ve outlined the typical construction methods used for two average homes in climate zone 5, built in 1964 and 2010.

As you can see, even an average home built as recently as 2010 is already lacking the proper insulation values to stand up to modern standards. Depending on where and when your home was built and what enhancements have been made, your results could be better or worse than the numbers listed here.

Regardless of how your home compares to the 2012 IECC, you can rest assured that future versions of the building codes are only going to keep pushing for greater energy efficiency. This can be an important consideration to keep in mind when making upgrades or remodeling decisions for your home. Many products available today offer additional energy efficiency above what traditional products did, so be sure to explore all your options to ensure you are making the most informed decision.